Remember to spread kindness now and all year

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Well, 2019 is almost in the books. As I get older, I find myself becoming more nostalgic as each year comes to a close.

December is a great time to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed. Reflection is something I have learned many people consider a luxury. We are too busy with the doing and often neglect the being.

So if it pleases, I would like to share with you some of my recent reflections.

Reflection No. 1

How can we be more positive in a broken world? I will admit I do not watch the news much anymore. It does not matter if it is Fox News, CNN or the local news, I just feel emotionally drained after listening.

All I can think about is the song A Little Good News which Anne Murray sang in the early 1980s. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a headline say, “not much to print today, can’t find nothing bad to say.”?

Today, now more than ever we need positive people to stand up and lead the way. We need to help each other stay positive and spread kindness. A wise man stated a very long time ago that what comes out of a man’s mouth will tell you what is in his heart. I will admit that this is sometimes very hard to do especially when confronted with negative and unjust situations.

One of my colleagues at Michigan State University shared that the human brain has 70,000 thoughts each day. You can’t always avoid difficult situations, but you can choose the thoughts you have when you experience them and how you react.

I encourage you to think of how you can be the kind of “salt and light” which helps uplift others and not knock them down.

Reflection No. 2

What percentage of your interactions are transactional as opposed to relational? Recently, my wife, Emily, and I were invited to teach the Emerging Ag Leaders Class at Wilmington College. One of the discussions we had with the students was about how technology is changing how we relate to one another.

Our challenge to the students was to track their interactions with people. How many of these interactions are transactional in nature as opposed to genuine face to face conversations?

Our relationships are now tied to quick texts or posts to our favorite social media platforms. Sadly these quick bites of communication are replacing face to face conversations. How are you building relationships with those around you?

Reflection No. 3

What is the reason for the season? Later this month, families all over the world will gather together to celebrate Christmas. In an ideal world, the holiday stretch would be all sunshine and roses. But we know better, right?

The holidays can be a stressful time for many. Family conflicts can surface, financial struggles bubble up as we try to keep up with the “Jones” in our materialistic society, and people who are introverted in nature can really get stressed due to the overload of people-time. I bet each of you could make a list of things that stress you during the holidays. For many, Christmas is not the celebration of the greatest gift, but rather a pile of presents, gift cards, and over-indulgence.

My sincere hope for each of you is that you celebrate Christmas for its real reason, that this year, Christmas will be a celebration of the greatest gift and not a pile of stuff.

Final Reflection

What reflections do you have as we close out the year? I encourage you to think of how you can be the kind of “salt and light” which spreads kindness and love to others.

A special thank you is extended to our farmers who work 365 days a year to provide safe and nutritious food for our country.

To close, I would like to share a reflection from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who stated, “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”

Have a good, and safe holiday season!

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David Marrison is an associate professor and Extension educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 740-622-2265 or marrison.2@osu.edu.

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